Paul Langford

Paul Langford, a fellow in history at Lincoln College, Oxford, is the author of A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783. His 1990 Ford Lectures, ‘Public Life and the Propertied Englishman, 1689-1798’, will be published by Oxford in the spring.

Progress Past

Paul Langford, 8 November 1990

It is customary to claim the idea of progress as one of the distinguishing features of Western civilisation: indeed the very success of the West is sometimes attributed to confidence in its own destiny in this respect. Its peculiar saving mission, that of liberating mankind by means of the creation of wealth, would make little sense without some underlying faith in the prospect, perhaps even the certainty, of limitless improvement. The author of The Idea of Progress in 18th-Century Britain, an interesting and carefully crafted book, evidently shares something of this faith. He ends it with a triumphalist flourish, arguing that the Industrial Revolution not only made possible the victory of the creed of progress but was itself the outcome of that creed.

A Long Silence: ‘Englishness’

David A. Bell, 14 December 2000

The Americans have ‘American exceptionalism’. The French have ‘l’exception française’. The Germans have ‘der deutsche Sonderweg’. The English, on...

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John Cannon, 10 May 1990

The publication of the first volume of the New Oxford History of England series, under the general editorship of J.M. Roberts, is something of an awesome event. Generations of schoolchildren and...

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Parliamentary Sovereignty

Betty Kemp, 22 December 1983

The publication of Bentham’s Collected Works is likely to produce more new or revised views than the publication of Burke’s Writings and Speeches: indeed, it has already done so. The...

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